Are Your Trees Ready for Winter?

At this time of year my thoughts are on turkey and the upcoming holidays, while our faithful, irreplaceable trees are outside in the cold landscape at the mercy of the oncoming winter storms.

Proper pruning is one of the best things you can do to preserve trees in the landscape! In my experience as an ISA Certified Arborist, large trees that are pruned regularly may be the difference between a long life or the sudden demise of your mature shade trees. Regular or routine pruning means at least once every four years to correct structural growth and remove all visible deadwood.

Properly pruning a young tree will set the stage for correct long term development in the structure of a tree. This helps protect the tree against damage from heavy snow, heavy winds and ice storms. An ISA Certified Arborist is best qualified to know which trees need pruning now and which may need pruning at a later date.

Although Mother Nature will determine what will ultimately be destroyed, a tree that is well prepared may be saved by proper pruning. Each time the tree is pruned the arborist will remove limbs that are weakly attached, diseased, and/or over-burdened, leaving structurally superior limbs. This process also reduces the overall weight in the canopy. Winter pruning allows wind to move through the tree and reduces the surface area for ice and snow to collect. Decades of experience have shown me that pruned trees have a better chance at surviving the winter gauntlet. In most cases, trees not pruned or maintained properly are the ones that are dangerous and make your property susceptible to severe damage from broken limbs or fallen trees.

We will gladly provide you with an evaluation of your mature trees. Contact us today to discuss both short and long term plans for the health of the trees on your property.

Written by Gary Carbocci

Benefits of Winter Mulch: From the Desk of Sal Masullo

It has been said many times and it is true, “Timing is everything.”

Sal Masullo, working hard to protect his clients’ investments.NOW is the time to consider winter mulching. Winter mulch is a little different from regular shredded bark mulch. Winter mulch is an organic compost based mulch that provides many benefits for both new and established plantings. Considering the very dry fall we experienced this year, winter mulch makes even more sense as a simple, inexpensive way to protect the investment you have in your landscape. The root systems of your trees, shrubs and perennials have been under tremendous stress. Winter mulch will protect these roots through the cold days ahead.

Just like people, plants require supplementary nutrients. Healthy plants are better equipped to fight off pests, disease and extreme temperatures. The benefits of winter mulch:

  •   Insulates soil and minimizes the impact of extreme cold temperature on plants and their root system
  •   Minimizes root disruption from the freeze/thaw cycle by stabilizing soil temperature
  •   Feeds plants slowly, consistently and organically as it decomposes
  •   Reduces moisture evaporation from the soil (a key benefit this season)

In short, winter mulch is preventative medicine for your plants. If you would like more information regarding winter mulch or other helpful winter protection for your garden, contact our office and one of our landscape professionals will be happy to answer all of your questions.

Written by Sal Masullo

Dear Deer, Please Stay Away From My Garden

These WERE hostas until the deer ate all of the leaves!

Deer ate all of the leaves off of these sedums. Deer may remind you of an iconic childhood cartoon, Bambi, but a real life herd will see your garden as a feast of delicious plants and flowers. If your beautiful garden is decimated by a herd of white tailed deer, you might jump on the computer and research how to deer proof your landscape. The number one thing to realize is that there is no such thing as a deer proof landscape. If deer are hungry enough they will eat anything but they prefer narrow leaf evergreens and fleshy, water filled plants like Hostas, Daylilies and Hydrangeas. Deer don’t usually eat thorny shrubs like roses or barberry, but they are known to nibble the new growth because it’s still soft and palatable. Deer routinely browse vegetation 5-6 feet off of the ground and are mostly nocturnal feeders. Bucks can weigh 250-300 pounds and consume about 4-10 pounds of food, per day, on their vegetarian diet. They typically have their offspring in May-August so you can expect the population to rise in the summer. In the winter deer become desperate for food and they will turn to plants they typically leave alone earlier in the year. The only options for defense are planting strategies, installation of fencing (8’ minimum suggested), and commercial deer repellents (taste and odor based).

Spreading Boxwood (along fence on left)Installing deer resistant landscape plants is the best way to manage browsing damage on your property. Deer are very particular when it comes to what plants they like to eat and implementing a specific planting strategy can direct them elsewhere in search of food. Deer tend to stay away from trees such as American Holly, Birch, Corkscrew Willow, Pitch Pine and Red Pine. Some deer resistant shrubs include Boxwood, Caryopteris, Japanese Plum Yew, Microbiota, Heather, and Osmanthus. You can bring color to your garden without sacrificing flowers to hungry deer. Deer find perennials such as Ligularia, Bleeding Hearts, Catmint, Astilbe and Russian Sage unappetizing. Ornamental grasses are usually left alone because deer don’t like the texture. Some good specimens for your deer resistant garden are Big/Little Blue Stem, Hakonechloa, and Fountain Grass.

Deer fencing can be expensive but is probably the only option for large tracts of land. The fence must be installed with proper footings and should be cleared of debris around the immediate area. This prevents the deer from jumping over and digging underneath the fence. It is recommended that the fence be at least 8 feet high, which could be considered unsightly in some settings.

Commercial deer repellents are plentiful and selecting an adequate product can be confusing because of all the different ingredients and mixtures. An untreated garden can become a buffet for this woodland pest. Deer are deterred by strong fragrances and what they consider to be foul tastes. Repellents can be costly and should be applied directly to the plants every few weeks to ensure effectiveness. Some irrigation companies even offer an inline system that will distribute a repellent during watering. It is important to know what smells and tastes deer hate most to get the most bang for your buck. Look for natural repellents with ingredients that include putrid eggs, fish oil, garlic, hot pepper or some combination thereof. Bitrex is the common name for Denatonium Benzoate which is the most bitter chemical compound known to exist and is mixed with these commercial repellents. You can shop online for a brand that fits your budget, but you might need to try several to find out what works best for the deer on your property.

With an arsenal packed full of planting strategies, deer fencing and deer repellents, your landscape may stand a chance against deer browsing and cause them to look elsewhere for their sustenance.

 

Written by Nick Onesto

Fall Spectacles

As we enter November and the mums finish flowering, fall may feel bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that winter is approaching and sweet with the delicious aromas of pumpkin spices, wood smoke and hot apple cider. Fall is a great time to witness local foliage change from green to rich, vibrant hues of purple, red, orange and gold.

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is the New York state tree and shows off its beautiful red color in mid to late October. The bark on a Sugar Maple is dark grey and exfoliates (peels away) on older trees.  20% of New York State forest is Sugar Maple and this native staple tree is an icon for New York, especially this time of year.

A brilliant yellow fall color shows up on the Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) which is native to China. It is considered a living fossil as it has no close living relatives in the species and is similar only to extinct species found in the fossil record. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs walked the earth and can live for hundreds of years. They make excellent street trees, as long as you plant the male form. The female form’s fruits have quite a noxious odor.

 

Dwarf Fothergilla in fall colorA beautiful small tree specimen is Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). A New York native, Witch-Hazel is an ideal plant for wet or dry conditions and perfect for your fall and winter landscape.  If you can see a Witch-Hazel, you’ll notice yellow flowers hiding among lush yellow leaves. The flowers have an aroma quintessential of fall and have an abstract shape. Witch-Hazel can grow up to 12’ tall and is a unique specimen for your landscape. Related to the Witch-Hazel is a shrub called Fothergilla. The Dwarf Fothergilla is an excellent native shrub for the landscape and the fall color is striking.

Virginia Creeper in English IvyA trailing plant that shows brilliant red color in the fall is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Don’t be frightened by this bright red vine that looks like poison ivy. There is a noticeable difference if you can recognize the distinguishable characteristics. For example, Virginia Creeper has 5-7 compound leafs that are always toothed (serrated edges) while poison ivy has only 3 leafs and with only a few teeth or none at all. Another discernible difference is the bark on Virginia Creeper, which appears to be woody. It is important to be wary when you see Virginia Creeper, it almost always grows alongside poison ivy. Ironically, poison ivy has a beautiful fall color (reds, purples, and yellow) but we can skip that one in the landscape!

Hurry up and get outside for an autumn stroll, and witness your fall foliage in magnificent colors. Goldberg and Rodler’s experienced staff is always working to bring you up to date information, ideas, and assistance with your seasonal landscape. At Goldberg & Rodler, we are experts in landscape maintenance, so when that big leaf drop happens, don’t hesitate to contact us for your fall cleanup this year.

Written by Nick Onesto